The Twitter We Know
It seems these days the only time we hear of Twitter is when our President-Elect lets out a tweet storm at 5am and sets off a media frenzy by 7am. This is the Twitter we know, the Twitter we are exposed to: Chris Brown challenging Soulja Boy to a boxing match, Kayne West having yet another public mental break down, all drama, jokes and celebrity tweet-matches. Yes, there are nights where I check- in, throw some popcorn in the microwave and watch Taco Bell fight with Old Spice.
Yes, Twitter is all that – but it’s also so much more.
Reconsider How You Want to Use Twitter
A few months ago, I decided to take a fresh approach to Twitter. I began to focus on using it not just for personal hobbies, likes and interests, but to put some focus on it. I wanted to use it as a tool for professional growth. Up until then, my Twitter was useless. It was a mash-up of bike news, futebol scores, random celebrity recipes, and whatever other random hobbies I am into (and there are a lot). I never visited it, didn’t feel the need to, nor the need to tweet.
This changed the past year as I dived deep into learning a new programming language and new software. Though I had access to books and online tutorials, it seemed every time I started to swim through all these new materials, I’d get right to the edge of the deep end and no further. I just couldn’t dive off the diving board and sink right in. I couldn’t get past my comfort zone. I needed help.
Instead of following hobbies (and Taco Bell, Old Spice…), I made a resolution to seek out users related to skills I wanted to acquire. New skills.
Make It Worth Visiting
The major problem with Twitter was I never visited. I didn’t need Taco Bell news that badly. I had to find a way to make Twitter something I wanted to take a daily glance at. This was my approach:
- I took a look at who I was following. If they hadn’t tweeted anything in awhile, if they only tweeted random lunch pictures – they got deleted. I did some house cleaning.
- Added some basics. For example, I added local/national news and then with time, narrowed it down to specific reporters and channels I like. I did the same for various other websites I regularly visit. I stopped website hopping and I started checking Twitter.
- I took inventory of brands I use for work and what products I use: Visual Studio, Adobe, DropBox, Office365, GitHub, etc. and I searched for their Twitter profile and followed.
- Then, I made note of specific writers (from tutorials, articles, anything I was learning from) – clicked their website, searched for a Twitter and…. follow. This continued on as I went to conferences. If I enjoyed their presentation, if I wanted to learn more about what they do: follow. Did this cool new website have photos I used on our site? Follow.
- For each new person I followed, I did a quick scan of their tweets. Did they retweet anyone I found interesting? Who are they following? Click, open, and follow.
Beginning Your Own Tweets
Once I put some focus on my feed and made it news specific to me – tweeting became easy. I began to want to visit everyday and when that someone cool on my twitter feed had a great article? Retweet it. Great info graphic? Retweet it.
The same went for my own tweets (they can’t all be retweets). Instead of “bookmarking” a tutorial or quick fix, I would tweet it. The moment I think: “I’ll read that later”, I tweet it. Soon, I had a few people retweet my own contributions, and their retweets and my retweets meant I got new followers.
Plus, tweeting got even easier as I set up some tools to tweet right from my browser and phone. Now, I’d don’t have to GO TO Twitter to tweet, I do so right from whatever I am reading (ask me and I can help refer you to some tools).
A Social Network for Professional Growth
Soon, I had a large list of websites I learn from, teachers, other students, professional colleagues – a social network that I could rely on for professional news. A network I could rely on for new tools, new inspiration and.. new motivation.
The great part? Interaction! Recently, I found a new tool that’s helping me code faster, cleaner programs. I professed my love on Twitter:
Almost immediately, I got a response from the CodeRush team:
In the end, yes, my Twitter account still has a lot of personal tweets – it’s another part of making it something I want to visit – but, now its’ purpose goes far beyond that. Finally, I’ve learned to re-purpose a corner of social media for something other than a photo of what I ate for lunch today.